Gulmarg located in the northern region of Kashmir Valley, is all set to host the third edition of the "Khelo India Winter Games." More than 1500 participants are expected to participate in the mega sports event scheduled to commence on February 10, 2023.
Recently, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Thakur along with J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, launched the 3rd Khelo India National Winter Games Anthem, mascot and jersey. They expressed happiness over Gulmarg turning into a "Sports City" and it is in a position to host the largest ever contingent of 1500 players from across the country.
Notably, the idea of holding the National Winter Games in J&K was implemented after the scrapping of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution, in 2019.
The first edition of the "Khelo India Winter Games" was held in Leh and Gulmarg in February and March 2020. The event, which was the first of its kind in India, was organised to promote winter sports, which included skiing, Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snow rugby, ice stock sport, snow baseball, mountaineering, snowshoe running, ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating. The main purpose was to popularise winter games among the youth across the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2021 virtually inaugurated the second edition of the "Khelo India Winter Games" held at Gulmarg.
In his inaugural address, PM Modi stated that Gulmarg will prepare sportsmen for more prominent international platforms like the Olympics. More than 800 athletes from across the country participated in the 2021 event; this year, the number of participants doubled.
Meanwhile, in South Kashmir, two tournaments under the Khelo India program have been organized in the Tral region of India where athletes have participated in sports despite the cold and snow. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mentioned the Snow Cricket Tournament held in Tral in the recent Mann Ki Baat program.
A snow sports festival was held in the Shopian district which was the first of its kind of festival. More than 300 athletes from the area participated, including women athletes. District Development Commissioner Shopian Sachin Kumar Vaishya was the chief guest at the organized festival. The Deputy Commissioner said that Shopian is where there is a lot of snowfall and the sports players of the valley have come to participate in this festival. When people come, tourism will also be boosted here.
"Attracting the youth of South Kashmir towards sports is a good step which is also getting acceptance at the public level," he further stated.
About 8 km away from the town of Tral in South Kashmir, the village Sayedabad Pastuna is located at the foot of the beautiful mountains.
A large number of youths from this area have been involved in sports activities for the past several years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned in "Mann Ki Baat" that the "Snow Cricket" Winter Games will be held in a village called Syed Abad Pastuna in South Kashmir's Pulwama. was held.
He further said that these games help to identify the players who will play for Team India in the future.
The PM said that Snow Cricket is an extension of the Khelo India movement. He hoped that these athletes would win medals and fly the flag for the country in the future. He advised the tourists, "Next time you visit Kashmir, take your time to watch such events as well. Enjoy the programs," said the Prime Minister.
"Sports activities across Pulwama have touched a new milestone with the provision of sports infrastructure in all Panchayats," he added.
The snow cricket is picked pace in Pulwama in the last year. Deputy Commissioner Pulwama Basirul Haq Chaudhary said that in addition to playgrounds in 190 panchayat circles, indoor and outdoor playgrounds have been constructed in the district, due to which sports have gained a unique position in the district.
He said, "The youth have been attracted to sports by conducting competitions in colleges and schools as well as in indoor and outdoor fields. He said that there is great talent in sports among the youth of the district who participate in national-level competitions."
It is worth mentioning here that the government initiatives are yielding better results. Tral was once considered a very sensitive area in South Kashmir, where now youth from Jammu and Kashmir is spreading the bringing laurels to the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)